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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: 'Extraordinary Means'

Extraordinary Means
By Robyn Schneider
YA Realistic Fiction
May 2015
Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 978-0062217165

Lane has put himself on the fast track during his high school career -- AP, power electives, creating clubs that will look good on his Stanford application. That life is rudely interrupted when he goes to a most exclusive private school, one where homework is frowned upon, eating as much as possible is encouraged and getting tired or excited is the last thing that should happen.

The school is only for teens with a highly contagious form of TB. They are prisoners, waiting to see if they survive or die.

Lane rejects that. He continues to see his sojourn at the bucolic setting as an enforced holding pattern and continues to exert himself in studies. Meanwhile, at the table of kids who appear to shine over the rest, he recognizes a girl from summer camp a few years ago.

Sadie recognizes Lane as well, and she doesn’t want anything to do with the boy who caused her greatest humiliation. That's especially true now that she has come into her own. She is no longer one of the awkward kids, the kids who don’t fit in. She is thriving, finding ways to break the rules and stand up to authority.

In a story that outdoes The Fault in Our Stars for strong character voice, drama and humor that do not feel manipulative, Extraordinary Means is a most welcome novel for lovers of contemporary YA fiction.

©2015 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and republished with permission

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: 'None of the Above'

None of the Above
By I.W. Gregorio
YA Realistic Fiction
April 2015
Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 978-00623335319

Things are going well for Kristin during her senior year -- she has two solid friends, a dreamy boyfriend, is interested in life and school, and she runs. She and her father are coping with her mother's death from cancer several years ago.

Then she discovers everything she knew about herself is not what she thought, and everything changes.

When she and her longtime boyfriend finally try to have sex, it's painful. Kristin is smart enough to go to a doctor to see what's wrong. She's surprised to discover she's intersex, with organs of both genders.

So at an age when most people are discovering themselves, Kristin is doing so, but starting from scratch. Everything she has thought about herself she now questions.

So do other people when the entire school finds out.

Debut author Gregorio, who is a doctor, handles Kristin's situation with kindness and from more than one angle. Regular teen complications of finding the right boy, dealing with scorn and discovering who you can really rely on are woven into the novel seamlessly.

Because Gregorio writes honestly about sexual matters, but with great taste, this is on the older end of YA fiction. But it is a novel I have recommended for every high school library.

©2015 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted by permission

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Sentence: 'Against the Country'

As inspired by Fobbit author David Abrams at The Quivering Pen, the best sentence(s) I read this week, presented without context or commentary:

So it was that whereas we were led to believe we had acquired the land, when in fact the land had acquired us; and whereas the land was, in my estimation, perfectly happy with this arrangement, though in a remarkably short time we were not; and whereas the law in no way met its onus to correct, or at a minimum to address, this injustice as it might any other; therefore my father's war on the property, and its war on us, could in no way be considered actionable, which left us his only incentive to sue for peace the psychological welfare of his famly, which he seemed to regard, if that word even applies here, as no more than an annoyance ... So it was that we stumbled into the country life like an infant who takes his first astonished steps and then, as his frightened grin dissolves, reaches out to catch himself against the side of a red-hot wood stove.

-- Ben Metcalf, Against the Country

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Sentence: 'The Turner House'

As inspired by Fobbit author David Abrams at The Quivering Pen, the best sentence(s) I read this week, presented without further context or commentary:

One man's haunting is another man's hallowed guest.

-- Angela Flournoy, The Turner House